AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY
REGULAR BOARD MEETING & ANNUAL PUBLIC HEARING
February 26, 2007
STATE COLLEGE BOROUGH BUILDING
Borough Council Chambers, 243 S. Allen Street, State College, PA
BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:
John Spychalski, Chairman
Joe Davidson, Vice-Chairman
Richard Kipp, Treasurer
Hugh Mose, General Manager
Judith Minor, Director of Administration
Eric Bernier, Service Development Manager
Jacqueline Sheader, Marketing Manager
Terri Quici, Executive Assistant
Amanda Jones, Human Resources Manager
Greg Kausch, CRPA, Transportation Planner
Craig Humphrey, State College Borough Liaison
Bruce Younkin, PSU Transportation Services
I. CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 4:04 PM.
II. PUBLIC HEARING TO RECEIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR BUS SERVICE IMPROVEMEMT
Chairman Spychalski opened the floor for public suggestions/comments regarding bus service improvements.
Eric Bernier explained that the Public Hearing is conducted to receive community ideas and input for service planning for FY 2007/2008. Mr. Bernier stated that he had received responses via email from Anirban Hazra, Laura Kauffman, Liz Pettingill, Shelly Aina, Steve Zwolinski and Lily Carr. Mr. Bernier read a summary of each response. Mr. Bernier indicated that no new service is being proposed, but that extending the running times on the N, R, and V routes is being considered. Mr. Bernier stated that if funding becomes available, service to University Airport would be considered.
Cary Supalo, a State College resident, stated his support of service to the Airport, which would then extend Centre Ride service for those persons with disabilities who use the service. Mr. Supalo spoke on behalf of a friend who would like service to be increased on the N Route because those buses quickly fill up. Mr. Supalo also commented that when the P bus travels around campus it always fills up quickly with those who are just riding within campus. Mr. Supalo suggested that the P Route not be fare-free on campus.
Jolly Harris, a Bellefonte resident, stated that he is impressed with the bus service, considering funding constraints. Mr. Harris suggested adding a bus stop at Forge Road on Blanchard Street and allowing those buses that begin or end at the Vo-Tech School to continue picking up passengers and complete the loop to the Nittany Mall instead of going out of service.
Lisa Hoffman, a Pine Grove Mills resident, voiced support for bus service to the Airport as well. Ms. Hoffman also requested extended service on the F Route around 9 AM, explaining that she works until 8 AM and can’t catch the earlier bus which does travel out to Pine Grove Mills.
Annie Harris, a State College resident, asked for consistency on the N, R and V Routes and additional training so that Drivers can better operate the wheelchair lifts. Ms. Harris also supported service to the Airport.
Michelle Bernetskie, a State College resident, stated that she also supports service to the Airport and agrees that Drivers are not very experienced at using the wheel chair lifts and that causes delays. Michelle also suggested that the N/V Express have fewer stops into downtown to make it a true “express”.
Alex Misiaes, a State College resident, requested more service on the V Route in the mornings. Mr. Misiaes stated that he has a 30-40 minute wait in the morning for inbound service.
Emily Yarborough, a Penn State USG representative, stated that she rides the N, V, and W buses. She wanted to thank CATA for service provided to the students and express appreciation for the morning service.
When no other citizens came forwards, Chairman Spychalski closed the hearing, thanking everyone for his or her comments.
III. PUBLIC COMMENT
None were received from the public. Chairman Spychalski thanked Craig Humphrey, State College Borough Liaison, for use of Council Chambers for the Public Hearing. Hugh Mose also thanked everyone who testified and indicated that it was the largest crowd at a CATA Public Hearing in his memory. Mr. Mose stated how important it is to hear community concerns so that staff can blend their suggestions into making the best possible service that CATA can provide. Chairman Spychalski echoed the Board’s appreciation, also.
IV. OLD BUSINESS
A. Approval of Minutes of January 22, 2007 Board Meeting
Chairman Spychalski entertained a motion to approve the minutes. Richard Kipp moved to approve the minutes of the January 22, 2007 Board Meeting. Joe Davidson seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
B. Receipt of the January 2007 Finance Report
Chairman Spychalski entertained a motion to receive the January 2007 Finance Report. Gary Powers moved to receive the Finance Report. Richard Kipp seconded.
Judi Minor provided a review of line item expenditures, CNG prices and tax credits.
Hugh Mose reported on the Fare Media and Ridership Reports. Mr. Mose stated that OnePasses are up 32% for the year and that sales for the Ride For Five passes are also up. Mr. Mose thanked Bruce Younkin for creating this program, noting that initially he didn’t think it would work.
Annie Harris asked if a Reduced Fare OnePass could be implemented so that people with disabilities did not have to find their tickets or deal with cash, especially during the cold weather. Chairman Spychalski indicated that this suggestion would be considered.
With no further comments, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote. The motion carried unanimously.
C. Policy Adoption and Review
Amanda Jones stated that the termination and layoff language addressed at the last meeting has been modified to delete any reference to temporary or permanent. Ms. Jones stated that any reference to termination would be associated dismissal “for cause.”
Hugh Mose reported on the Substance Abuse Policy question about zero tolerance versus .02 breath alcohol concentration (BAC) currently stated in the policy. Mr. Mose said that breath-testing devices are not reported to be accurate below .02 BAC, and staff recommends support of the federal regulations in that CATA not vary from the.02 BAC level. Joe Davidson asked what test(s) is performed when there is an “incident,” because the memo from Mr. Gilbert indicates a breath test but the policy references both breath and blood tests. Mr. Davidson stated that there should be consistency throughout the policy regarding what testing will occur. Mr. Mose stated that the adoption of this policy could be deferred until the next meeting when Mr. Gilbert has an opportunity to answer these questions.
Gary Powers moved that the Board adopt the policies reviewed at last meeting with the changes that Ms. Jones noted, deferring the Substance Abuse Policy until next meeting. Kathryn Bittner seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
Amanda Jones reviewed the next set of policies from the Policy Manual. Ms. Jones noted only minor editorial changes since these were last reviewed at the end of 2005. Chairman Spychalski asked Board members to forward any comments or suggestions to Amanda within the next three weeks.
D. Budget Update
Hugh Mose provided an update on the current budget and funding situation since the December Work Session. Mr. Mose noted that the year-end carry-forward might be higher than expected, so past discussions regarding a fare increase and/or delaying bus refurbishment may need to re reconsidered. Chairman Spychalski cautioned that funding at the state level presents major challenges in the long-term and is a serious matter.
Joe Davidson asked how practical it is to create two budgets, one with a fare increase and one without. Ms. Minor stated that her preference is to do one budget and then provide an analysis of the impact of a fare increase. Mr. Davidson was in agreement.
Annie Harris commented that she has no problem with a fare increase, particularly if the revenue will help with more service.
E. Mission Statement Update
Hugh Mose provided multiple alternatives that have emerged from discussions regarding the Mission Statement and asked the Board to formally adopt one of the two he recommended. After brief discussion, Kathryn Bittner moved to adopt “To deliver safe, reliable, accessible and affordable transportation, provided in a courteous and environmentally, fiscally and socially responsible manner”as the Mission Statement. Gary Powers seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
V. NEW BUSINESS
A. Paratransit Services
Hugh Mose stated that last summer another transportation provider in the community approached CATA and asked for the opportunity to bid on paratransit services. The original Request for Proposals in 2003 was for a five-year period, although the resulting contract with Handy Delivery is structured as a one year agreement renewable yearly for four additional years. The contract with Handy Delivery is in the fourth year with the end of the five-year period in 2008. Mr. Mose stated that staff recommends the Board authorize one more year provided that a satisfactory rate can be negotiated. Mr. Mose stated that a Request for Proposal would be advertised early next year, and all transportation providers in the community will have a chance to bid.
Gary Powers moved to authorize staff to exercise the option to extend the paratransit contract with Handy Delivery for one more year, through June 2008, provided that a satisfactory rate can be negotiated. Joe Davidson seconded.
Richard Kipp asked if a three-year contract would achieve the same effect in continuity of service and give more flexibility for new transportation providers into the community. Mr. Mose said that it should work as well.
With no further discussion, the motion carried unanimously.
B. Congressional Earmark Request
Hugh Mose reported that at this time every year requests for Congressional earmarks are accepted for the upcoming fiscal year’s appropriations bills. Mr. Mose stated that staff had been working on applications focused on the replacement of six of our 40’ Orions purchased in 1996. In their place, staff is now recommending a funding request for four 60’ articulated buses. Joe Davidson stated that he supported alternate technologies and the purchase of the “artics”, but not locking into the purchase of hybrids. Chairman Spychalski received a general consensus of support from the Board members. Mr. Mose stated he has asked the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County and the Council of Governments to write letters of support.
C. Transit Coalition
Hugh Mose stated that now seems to be the right time to invite community leaders to be part of a Transit Coalition, a goal that has been in the Marketing Plan for the past year. Mr. Mose provided Board members with an initial list of potential invitees and asked for suggestions for others. Mr. Mose stated that there is a kick-off breakfast planned for March 22 at the Hotel State College. Chairman Spychalski obtained from Board members a general consensus of support for the event. Kathryn Bittner asked if the municipalities they represented were being asked to attend. Mr. Mose said that because it would be difficult to include all elected officials, he had invited three who represented particular transportation interests. Joe Davidson stated that he didn’t think paratransit was well represented on the list. Chairman Spychalski asked Board members to submit names they’d like to see on the list to Mr. Mose.
VI. OTHER BUSINESS
A. General Manager’s Report
Hugh Mose noted that the Curtin Road detour had created many problems for us and was very disruptive, but that it was re-opened over the weekend. Mr. Mose reported that Keith Hamilton had been named the new Director at the Centre County Transportation Office. Mr. Mose gave each of the Board members a newly designed token explaining how expensive the traditional slotted tokens have become.
B. Service Development Report
Eric Bernier agreed with Michelle’s remark in that the N/R/V Express doesn’t resemble express service very much and that the Service Planning committee will look at it again to see where changes can be made.
With no further business to discuss, Gary Powers moved to adjourn the meeting at 5:37M. Richard Kipp seconded. The motion carried unanimously.